Mrs Linda Anderson

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW37532

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 15/12/2017 End: 17:00 15/12/2017

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

Allegation found proved at the substantive hearing:

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Essex County Council between June 2013 and April 2015:
1. In respect of Family A, you did not complete the following as per management directions:
(a) Update chronology in respect of Father A and/or Mother A and/or Service User A between 9 December 2014 and approximately 31 January 2015;
(b) Update case summary on the case of Father A and/or Mother A and/or Service User A between 9 December 2014 and approximately 22 January 2015;
(c) Identify, between 9 December 2014 and approximately 31 January 2015, the main carer for:
(i) Father A;
(d) Close, between 9 December 2014 and approximately 16 January 2015, the pathways for:
(i) Father A;
(ii) Mother A.
2. In respect of Service User B, you did not follow management direction on:
(a) 28 November 2014 to produce and/or provide a session plan regarding direct work by 19 December 2014 in respect of:
(i) Service User B;
(ii) Mother B.
(b) 16 January 2015 to update and/or record the following actions by 23 January 2015:
(i) Child In Need Minutes of 13 January 2015;
(ii) Child in Need Plan.
3. In relation to Service User C’s, Review Child Protection Conference Report (RCPC) for 16 December 2014 you:
(a) Did not review the correct protection plan, namely for the period 5 September to 16 December 2014;
(b) [NOT PROVED]
(c) Made an inappropriate recommendation for Service User C to became a Child In Need instead of recommending that the Child Protection Plan should be continued;
(d) Completed session plans that were not reflective of needs of family and/or child;
(e) Did not update the session plan referred to in 3(d) by 31 January 2015 as requested.
4. In relation to Service User D’s Review Child Protection Conference Report (RCPC) for 16 December 2014 you:
(a) Did not review the correct protection plan, namely for the period 5 September to 16 December 2014;
(b) [NOT PROVED];
(c) Made an inappropriate recommendation for Service User D to become a Child In Need instead of recommending that the Child Protection Plan should be continued;
(d) Completed session plans that were not reflective of needs of family and/or child;
(e) Did not update the session plans referred to in 4(d) by 31 January 2015 as requested. 
5. In relation to Family E you:
(a) did not provide your report 5 days before the Review Child Protection Conference on 3 June 2013;
(b) did not visit and/or see Child E, between 22 January and 26 March 2014, in line with the Child Protection Plan dated 13 January 2014.
(c) In respect of Father E did not complete and/or finalise the risk assessment:
(d) Did not complete and/or finalise the risk assessment of Mother E as stipulated on 5 March 2014. 
(e) Did not record core group information as per management direction on 5 March 2014. 
6. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 – 5 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.
7. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Service of Notice
1. The notice of this hearing was sent to the Registrant at her address as it appeared in the register on 17 October 2017. The notice contained the date, time and venue of today’s hearing.
2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, and is satisfied that notice of today’s hearing has been served in accordance with Rule 6(1) of the Conduct and Competence Rules 2003 (the “Rules”).
Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant
3. The Panel then went on to consider whether to proceed in the absence of the Registrant pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules. In doing so, it considered the submissions of Ms Benamaisia on behalf of the HCPC.
4. Ms Benamaisia submitted that the HCPC has taken all reasonable steps to serve the notice on the Registrant. She further submitted that the Registrant has engaged with the HCPC, and she has signed and returned the Voluntary Removal Agreement. She submitted that, in the circumstances, an adjournment would serve no useful purpose.
5. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He advised that, if the Panel is satisfied that all reasonable efforts have been made to notify the Registrant of the hearing, then the Panel had the discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.
6. It was clear, from the principles derived from case law, that the Panel was required to ensure that fairness and justice were maintained when deciding whether or not to proceed in a Registrant’s absence.
7. The Panel was satisfied that all reasonable efforts had been made by the HCPC to notify the Registrant of the hearing. It was also satisfied that the Registrant is aware of the hearing. The Panel noted the nature and purpose of the hearing and was satisfied that the presence of the Registrant was not necessary for the Panel to be able to make a properly reasoned decision on the proposed application.
8. Having weighed the public interest for expedition in cases against the Registrant’s own interest, the Panel decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Background:

9. The Registrant is a Social Worker. From 3 September 1996 until her resignation on 20 February 2015, she was employed as a Senior Practitioner by Essex County Council (“the Council”) in the Braintree Family Support and Protection Team. She usually held a caseload of between fourteen and seventeen cases, largely comprising Children in Need (“CIN”) and children subject to Child Protection Plans (“CPP”). She also worked with children involved in public and private law proceedings. The Registrant did not have management responsibilities but as a Senior Practitioner provided advice to colleague Social Workers.
10. As a result of concerns about the Registrant’s case management work which were identified during formal supervision sessions, on 3 July 2013 the Registrant was made subject to a formal capability process. 
11. At the time that these concerns were raised the Registrant was subject to a sickness monitoring plan. In addition, on her return to work towards the end of 2014 she was also subject to a performance improvement plan.  She had a number of periods of significant sickness absence in 2013 and 2014. Following a phased return to work between October 2014 and January 2015 the Registrant resumed full time duties at the beginning of January 2015. She tendered her resignation by letter dated 23 January 2015 and her employment with the Council ended on 20 February 2015. As she had some annual leave owing, her last working day with the Council was 6 February 2015.
12. The Council subsequently referred this matter to the HCPC. At a substantive hearing in 2017, the above particulars of the Allegation were proved and the Registrant’s fitness to practise was found to be impaired. On 27 March 2017, the panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee hearing the matter imposed a Suspension Order for a period of 12 months.
13. The Registrant has since applied for voluntary removal of her registration on the basis that she has retired from the profession and has no desire to return to practise as a Social Worker.

Decision:

14. The Panel considered the submissions of Ms Benamaisia. She outlined the background to the allegations and the outcome of the Substantive Hearing in 2017. She submitted that, following representations from the Registrant, and a full review of the case, a Voluntary Removal Agreement was the appropriate method of finalising this case. The HCPC was satisfied that the Registrant fully understood the effect of the Voluntary Removal Agreement and that granting the application would not compromise the protection of the public or have any detrimental effect on the wider public interest. In light of the fact that the Registrant had retired from Social Work in 2015 and did not intend to return to the profession, the HCPC did not consider that this was a case that only a Striking-Off Order would suffice to protect the public and the public interest.
15. The Panel had sight of correspondence from the Registrant from which it is clear that she no longer wishes to practise as a Social Worker and has no intention of applying for restoration to the HCPC register as a Social Worker in the future.
16. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He drew the Panel’s attention to the case of Matthew Clarke v The General Optical Council [2017] EWHC 521 (Admin).
17. The Panel considered all of the information and representations by Ms Benamaisia. The Panel has applied its own judgement to the application and also had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on “Disposal of Cases by Consent” and has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor in this regard.
18. The Panel noted that the HCPC is satisfied that it would be meeting its statutory objective of protecting the public and was otherwise in the public interest, if the Registrant was permitted to be removed from the Register on similar terms to those which would apply if she were subject to a Striking-Off Order under article 29(5) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001.
19. The Panel had before it a Voluntary Removal Agreement that had been agreed between the HCPC and the Registrant and signed and executed by both parties. The Registrant also signed a Declaration that there was no other matter of which the Registrant was aware which might give rise to any other allegation.
20. The Panel firstly considered whether there were any factors that would make it undesirable to allow this matter to be concluded on the consensual basis set out in the Voluntary Removal Agreement. The Panel has concluded that, given the nature of the allegation, there are no overriding public interest factors that would require this matter to conclude by way of striking the Registrant’s name from the HCPC Register.
21. Further, the panel at the substantive hearing determined that a Striking-Off Order was disproportionate and imposed a Suspension Order as it “would provide not only the requisite level of protection, but also provide the Registrant with an opportunity to return to her profession and safe practice if she wished.” A period of time has passed and the Registrant has maintained her desire not to return to the profession, having retired in 2015.
22. The Panel is aware that if the Registrant seeks to return to the HCPC Register at any time in the future, her application would be treated as if she had been struck off the HCPC register as a result of the allegation.
23. In all the circumstances, the Panel is satisfied that both the public and the public interest would be adequately protected by the terms of the agreement reached between the Registrant and the HCPC in as much as the Registrant will henceforth be prevented from practising as a Social Worker and, should she wish to apply to return to the Register, she will be treated as though she had been struck off.
24. Furthermore, the Panel is satisfied that this method of finalising this case is appropriate and proportionate, and is jointly in the interest of the public, the HCPC and the Registrant. Accordingly the Panel approves the Voluntary Removal Agreement.
25. The Panel is also satisfied that the public interest has been satisfied in that the Registrant has been held to account, that proper standards of practice and behaviour have been declared.
26. In light of the Panel’s determination in relation to the Voluntary Removal Agreement, it is exercising its power to review the Order under Article 30(2) and 30(4) and revokes the current Suspension Order with immediate effect.

Order

The Panel directs that the Suspension Order (the Existing Order) be revoked and approves the VRA on the basis that the Registrar will remove the name of Mrs Linda Anderson from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

If the Registrant seeks to return to the HCPC Register at any time the application would be treated as if the registrant had been struck off as a result of that allegation.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Linda Anderson

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
15/12/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
27/03/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended